Friday, April 7, 2017

Moment by Moment

O.K., I took us to Southeast, East Asia and Houston, Texas last week. Let's go back to Houston. I want to talk about another part of my personal journey-to-deeper-faith in that city.  After three years in a pastorate with walls we were thrust out into the church-without walls. It was hard for me to adjust to having no structure, but then I don't adjust very fast to anything. Psalm 37:3 carried me through the first trial.  The evil one taunted me with this thought: "You no longer have a salary. You will be sitting on a corner with a tin cup" God gave me:  "Trust in the Lord and do good. So shall you dwell in th land and verily thou shalt be fed". We had one more kid to get through college. An elder and his wife from the church we just left asked us to dinner: "We will pay Dee's tuition." Oooooh!

Ted was free and flyin' high with the eagles. I, however spent some time in the chicken coop, still worrying and scrambling for personal promises from the Lord.  He had brought to Himself three fabulous women just as we were leaving the church-with walls: ... two Judy's and a Kathy. I was about to learn more about the ministry of personal discipleship without the church-with-walls to support me. Last week I told you about the encouragement I received from four men in ministry as I spoke for a conference out here in California. The Lord was working in me to trust only Him, and not to put my faith in ever-changing institutions. Christ never changes. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

Remember,  we had met the District Attorney of the county, he came to Christ and later joined Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship ministry. Before leaving the visible church the Lord had brought into our lives a new Christian couple. Nick was a CPA/ part owner of a cross-country flat-bed trailer company. His beautiful wife was a well-known interior designer.  We had no idea what a major part they would play in our lives and ministry for the rest of our days on this earth. These two bought a few acres 'way west of Houston. On the acreage were a white farmhouse, an old barn and a "tank"...the Texas word for a pond or small lake.

Two young women who had been in our church came to our office. Willa was a nurse and Shari was a Delta Airline stewardess. "Ted, we have so many friends that may never go to church. If we can find a place to meet  would you come and teach us on Sunday morning?"  Of course he would. These gutsy young women found a Shakey's Pizza Parlor that was closed on Sundays, but open to us. Ted became the Pizza Pastor. Young singles came to Christ. Shari invited her stewardess friends to luncheons and asked me to come and share Christ with them. She owned a house that filled up with new Christians and some who were on their way. Both Shari and Willa continue to serve the Lord with their whole hearts...Shari, married to Lee in Cincinnati and Willa, on a farm outside Houston where she welcomes all who come.

Somehow we were invited to minister to Louisiana Tech students in Monroe (Yep, the stomping grounds of the Duck Dynasty family). Those people are a kick! They took us to a rodeo and rented a houseboat on a Sunday afternoon and we went cruisin' down the Quachita (That's Watch-i-taw)) River. When the students graduated from Louisiana (That's Looooziana") Tech  they came to Houston. One was Rae Lynn. She heads up something or other at Texas A&M. Amazing woman! What do you do with country kids on a weekend in a big city? Well, you foist them on your friends that just bought a place in the country 'way west of Houston.

The Pizza Parlor new Christians joined the Louisiana Tech grads at Euphanel and Nick's. They slept on the floor or in the barn. That bothered Nick. "Jo and Ted, if you're going to bring these kids here we've got to have a place for them to sleep. I can't even get to my own bathroom without stepping over bodies!" ...and Round Top Retreat was born. Look it up on the web. Each year thousands of folk come to these magnificent homes, gardens and grounds. Every room is decorated to perfection with old Texas antiques. Nick and Euphanel's love for Christ, their giftedness, hard, hard work and trust in our Lord welcome all with love and grace. At Round Top Retreat people find Christ,  rest, restoration, encouragement and purpose.

When I was a little girl on the farm I watched my dad, day after day guide a team of four horses up and down the furrows of the field. In the corral was a stallion. My dad would never have tried to hitch him up to a plow,  The Lord was introducing us to stallions! I will tell you about more of them next week.

There's an old song that I love.  Here it is:

         Moment by Moment.

Never a trial that He is not there,
Never a burden that He doth not bear.
Never a sorrow that He doth not share,
Moment by moment, I'm under His care.

Moment by moment, I'm kept in His love.
Moment by moment, I've life from above.
Looking to Jesus 'til glory doth shine;.
Moment by moment, O Lord,  I am Thine.

Love,  Jo